My grandfather first laid eyes on my grandmother when she 12-years-old. She was a new student in their little town and he fell in love with her immediately, going home that same day and telling his mother he’d met the woman he was going to marry. They courted through the years but never really settled into each other. My mom says she saw Grandma’s diary from that time and it read like this: “Went out with Paul last night. Had a date with Harry. A fellow named Rueben took me out.” And then it was blank for about six months. The first entry after the silence says, “I married John.” Grandpa confesses to taking more than a few girls out dancing before the marriage as well, so they were both foot loose and fancy free there for a while. But through it all, he knew he’d marry Margaret. It was never a question in his mind.
Grandma is pure spitfire. She’s a selfish brat and always has been. Not one of those grandma’s you cuddle up to in a big rocking chair while she knits you a new sweater, god no! When I was about ten-years-old I remember finding a stick of gum under the sofa and putting it on the kitchen counter among some of her things. I knew she’d never let me have it if she knew I found it under the couch so my big plan was to “discover” it there under her papers and ask if I could have it. She ripped me a new one for lying... sometimes I think she planted the darn thing there just to test me. I never even thought of trying to pull one over on her again.
She’s been having trouble for years and her heart has forced her to be a softer person. I’ve really enjoyed her lately and delighted in my daughter dragging her around to look at the rain on our recent visit. But she has hated being unable to do what she wants. When she climbed up on a chair last week and had what should have been a little owie, I just knew. I just knew that this was it, somehow. She went in for surgery and they were forced to remove about half of the skin of her leg. She was looking at months and months of convalescent care and she’d likely never share a bed with Grandpa again.
This morning… This morning my grandfather, a man who has loved one woman for over 70 years… This morning my grandfather said goodbye to his wife, his lover, the mother of his children, his best friend in the whole world. This morning my grandmother died. My mom got to be with her most of this week and was there within an hour of her death. I have been blessed to know this woman. She may not have cuddled me, but I know she loved me with all her heart and I saw the look in her eye as she allowed my child to share the wonder of a summer thunder shower with her. She was loved. She is gone. May she finally hurt no more. May the next life allow her peace. May she recognize that she lived a life full of passion and with a man who would do anything for her.
I love you Grandma. Good bye.